I recently acknowledged a serious problem: I am well on my way to becoming a book hoarder. Instead of shopping for the latest fashions, I prefer to spend my time in bookstores and libraries, adding books to a reading list beyond completion. On weekends, I’d rather relax on the back deck and read for a few hours than spend “a night out on the town.” My parents only encouraged this behavior with regular gifts of books. I even decorate with books!
We have lived at Cairn Hill Farms for almost four years now, and with the departure of kid #2 to college, I started to unpack the many, many boxes of books in the basement. However, it quickly became evident that we lacked the shelf space to utilize the vast collection. So I began the challenge of drastically reducing our family book collection.
To start, some piles were quite easy: We do not need 40 cookbooks (I kept our 10 favorites). We also didn’t need dated reference materials. Certain tomes were easier than others. One son enjoyed the Gary Paulson books, so these were set aside in the chance that he might want them later. Certain popular series were worth keeping: Anne of Green Gables, The Lord of the Rings, The Narnia Collection, Harry Potter, Little House, etc.
Sentimental books presented tougher choices. Favorite nightly readers from childhood like Goodnight Moon were saved as were books inscribed to the kids. In fact, giving books with cherished inscriptions is a family tradition in both the Roche and Murphy Families, the copy of Smoky by Will James from my parents, Horse Stories for Children signed by one of my first riding instructors, the copy of The Imitation of Christ signed by Dr. Febes Facey (a high school graduation present). There are also books that provide insight in my parents’ lives, Dad’s graduate school copy of The Hedgehog and the Fox filled with handwritten notes.
Throughout this process, I recognized sentimental attachments that didn’t really connect to books. For example, I held onto a copy of Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion. While the movie was a favorite of the men in the family, I didn’t connect with Kesey’s stream of consciousness, not worth keeping for me, personally.
What should be done with all those extra books? I started by piling them on the dining room table and asking family, friends, and neighbors to take a few. Then some books were donated to local libraries, donated for fundraisers, or donated to Goodwill. In closing, purchasing books can be rather costly. Do you have some just gathering dust? Share! Donate! You never know when a book will start a memorable adventure.
Thanks for reading!